Title Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2019
Database Explanatory Memoranda
Date 05-08-2019 10:06 AM
Source Senate
System Id legislation/ems/s1215_ems_13594e8d-b5a6-44fc-bc65-be598d64b30e


Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2019

 

 

 

 

2019

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

GREAT AUSTRALIAN BIGHT ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION BILL 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator Hanson-Young)

 


GREAT AUSTRALIAN BIGHT ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION BILL 2019

 

OUTLINE

 

The Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2019 seeks to protect the Great Australian Bight from environmental damage resulting from mining activities and begin the process of World Heritage Listing the Great Australian Bight.

 

The Great Australian Bight (the Bight), is situated off the coastline of South and Western Australia. It is home to a huge array of marine and bird life, much of it endemic to this ecosystem. It is an important marine nursery for a number of different whale species and home to the Australian Sea Lion.

 

The Bight is an iconic Australian environment and host to thousands of fishing and tourism jobs. Deepwater drilling in the Bight poses a significant threat to the environment and the local economies dependent on fishing and tourism. Even without an oil spill, drilling operations in the Bight would have a detrimental effect on marine environments and an unacceptable climate impact.

 

This Bill establishes penalties for mining activities in the Great Australian Bight. It addresses some of the concerns identified with previous legislative attempts to protect the Bight, namely the Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2016, by:

·         defining the area under protection explicitly;

·         clarifying the intention of the bill ;

·         expanding legal action to include civil enforcement options in order to seek remediation or compensation from the offender; and

·         expanding the penalties to reflect the harm and damage caused.

 

It also establishes a process for initiating World Heritage listing for the Bight.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

Part 1 – Preliminary

Clause 1: Short Title

1.                  Clause 1 is a formal provision specifying the short title of the Bill.

Clause 2: Commencement

2.                  This clause provides that the Act will commence the day after it receives the Royal Assent.

Clause 3: Objects

3.                  This clause identifies that the object of this Bill is to protect the following from damage resulting from mining activities:

(a)    the Great Australian Bight environment; and

(b)   industries in the Great Australian Bight region:

Clause 4: Applications of this Act

4.                  Subclause 4(1) provides that this Bill applies in relation to the Great Australian Bight marine area and has effect despite any other Commonwealth law including any of the following Acts:

(a)    the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;

(b)   the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.

5.                  Subclause 4(2) provides that to avoid doubt, an authorisation, permit, title or other instrument that permits conduct that is inconsistent with the operation of this Bill is taken to have no effect to the extent of the inconsistency.

6.                  Subclause 4(3) provides that a provision of this Bill that has effect in relation to a place that is within the outer limits of the exclusive economic zone of Australia (whether the place is in the zone or in Australia), or that is on or in the continental shelf of Australia, applies in relation to all persons (including persons who are not Australian citizens).

Clause 5: Definitions

7.                  This clause provides definitions of terms used throughout the Bill.

Clause 6: Meaning of Commonwealth Great Australian Bight area

8.                  This clause provides a definition of the area referred to in this Bill as the Commonwealth Great Australian Bight area.

9.                  A map of the relevant Great Australian Bight area is at Appendix 1.

10.              The map is intended to be indicative only. The definition provided in the body of the Bill prevails over the map if there is any inconsistency.

Part 2 – Prohibiting mining operations in the Commonwealth Great Australian Bight area

Clause 7: Mining operations in the Commonwealth Great Australian Bight area - offence

11.              This clause establishes the parameters for an ordinary offence and an aggravated offence.

Clause 8: Mining operations in the Commonwealth Great Australian Bight area –civil penalty

12.              This clause establishes the parameters for an ordinary contravention and an aggravated contravention and penalties for those contraventions.

Clause 9:  Aggravated offence or contravention—matters to have regard to in determining serious harm to the environment

13.              This clause provides guidance for assessing whether conduct caused, or had the potential to result in, serious harm to the Commonwealth Great Australian Bight area. Causing serious harm, or the potential to result in serious harm to the environment in the Commonwealth Great Australian Bight, are aggravating factors for the offence and for civil penalty provisions in the Bill.

14.              It is intended that any calculations of harm to the environment would include the adverse impact on local economies that would flow from that harm.

Part 3 – Enforcement

Clause 10: Appointment of inspectors

15.              This clause provides for the appointment of inspectors.

Clause 11: Monitoring powers

16.              This clause provides for the scope and limitations of monitoring powers under Part 2 of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (the Regulatory Powers Act).

Clause 12: Investigation powers

17.              This clause provides for the scope and limitations of investigative powers under Part 3 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Clause 13: Civil penalty provisions

18.              This clause makes the civil penalty provisions in the Bill enforceable under Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Clause 14: Infringement notices

19.              This clause allows infringement notices, under Part 5 of the Regulatory Powers Act, to be issued for contraventions of the civil penalty provision in subclause 8(1).

Clause 15: Injunctions

20.              This clause allows clauses 7 and 8 to be enforced through injunctions granted under Part 7 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Part 4 – Miscellaneous

Clause 16: Compensation for acquisition of property

21.              This clause provides for the process for determining compensation (on just terms) for any acquisition of property which may result from the operation of the Bill.

Clause 17: Minister must nominate the Great Australian Bight to be listed as a World Heritage Site

22.              This clause requires the Minister to submit the Great Australian Bight for consideration as a World Heritage Site.

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2019

 

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.

 

Overview of the Bill

The Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2019 seeks to protect the Great Australian Bight from environmental damage resulting from mining activities, and begin the process of World Heritage Listing the Great Australian Bight.

 

The Great Australian Bight hosts thousands of fishing and tourism jobs. Deepwater drilling in the Bight poses a significant threat to local economies dependent on fishing and tourism. By protecting the Bight from drilling, this Bill promotes the right to work of thousands of South Australians.

 

Human rights implications

By protecting fishing and tourism industries in the Great Australian Bight, this Bill engages and promotes the right to work which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in articles 6(1), 7 and 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

 

Conclusion

This Bill is compatible with human rights as it promotes the protection of human rights.

 

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young